Iran court holds final session for Washington Post reporter

Jason Rezaian appeared in Tehran court for expected final session in his espionage trial

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

The Islamic Revolutionary Court in Tehran held on Monday a closed-door final session on the trial of Washington Post correspondent Jason Rezaian.

A thaw in Iranian relations with the West has raised hopes for American prisoners’ to be release there. A verdict would be issued within a week according to the official Islamic Republic News Agency (ISNA) which quoted Rezaian's lawyer, Leila Ahsan.

“I presented defenses against the charges verbally, and those parts that were left unsaid were submitted to the court,” she said.

However, The Washington Post Executive Editor Martin Baron said the trial ended without an official statement on when a verdict might come or any indication of what would happen next. “The process has been anything but transparent and just, and that pattern persists,” he said. “The only thing that is clear is Jason’s innocence,” he added.

The Washington Post correspondent Jason Rezaian is being prosecuted on charges of “spying and conspiring behind closed doors” in Tehran as well as two other crimes, according to his lawyer.

In addition to espionage, he is accused of  "collaborating with hostile governments" and "propaganda against the establishment," Rezaian’s lawyer, Leilah Ahsan said.   

Rezaian is an American-Iranian and was arrested last July along with his wife Yeganeh Salehi and an unnamed female photojournalist. Salehi is also a journalist but was released on bail along with the unnamed woman.

At the first hearing on May 25, prosecutors presented the charges against him, including "collecting confidential information," "cooperating with hostile governments" and "propaganda against the regime."

Rezaian, 39, has been the chief of the Washington Post bureau in Tehran since 2012. His family has dismissed the charges against him as "laughable" and the United States government has called for his release.

However Tehran does not recognise dual citizenship, and says the case is purely an internal one.

US President Barack Obama had described Rezaian's arrest as being based on "vague charges.” Last month the US President urged Tehran to release two detained journalists with Rezaian.

There has been no official confirmation from the White House and the US State Department concerning the charges against Rezaian.

The charges against Rezaian are "patently absurd" said Marie Harf, the US State Department’s spokeswoman.

Family members of Jason Rezaian have criticised the Iranian media for its hostile attitude towards him and for supporting the allegations that Rezaian worked as a spy and shared economic and industrial data with Washington during his mission in Tehran for The Washington Post.

Iran is one of the most oppressive countries with respect to media freedom and is ranked 173 out of 180 countries in the 2015 World Press Freedom Index.

Five months ago, the Iranian government launched a  wave of detentions and prosecutions against bloggers and journalists, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists’ January 2015 report.

TRTWorld and agencies